Young, gifted and black

En­tre­pre­neur is jack of many trades

Sunday World - - Business - XO­LILE MT­S­HAZO mt­s­ha­zox@sun­day­world.co.za

“TO be young, gifted and black.” So goes Amer­i­can black con­scious­ness diva Nina Si­mone’s great song.

En­tre­pre­neur Tha­bang Mlan­geni fits the bill. He is a busi­ness­man, mo­ti­va­tional speaker, MC, ra­dio pre­sen­ter, men­tor and a co-founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Lil­lian M and As­so­ciates, a con­sult­ing com­pany.

Mlan­geni (22) started his con­sul­tancy busi­ness in 2007.

He first opened a house garbage bin wash­ing busi­ness, called Zola Bin Wash, in Soweto, where he grew up.

The ven­ture en­tailed clean­ing 180 bins ev­ery week. He charged R20 a month for his ser­vices. He also mowed neigh­bours’ lawns.

Mlan­geni and his two el­der sib­lings were raised by his mother, Lil­lian.

“I was at high school and did my ‘ piece jobs’ on Tues­days.

“I bought my school uni­form and clothes my­self, and helped put food on the ta­ble.

“The sit­u­a­tion in which we found our­selves moved me to be­come a bet­ter per­son. I had a dream,” says Mlan­geni.

“A mir­a­cle hap­pened in the Joburg city cen­tre when I be­friended Tony in 2010. It’s a pity I for­got his sur­name. He in­tro­duced me to sell­ing clean­ing chem­i­cals door-to-door. I had just fin­ished ma­tric. ”

Mlan­geni en­rolled to study pub­lic re­la­tions, but had to drop out be­cause he could not af­ford the fees. He got a part-time job as a bar­man at a fa­mous eatery.

His de­sire to be­come an en­tre­pre­neur did not di­min­ish, and with four friends, reg­is­tered MZA-Code En­ter­prise De­vel­op­ment, which spe­cialised in stag­ing ca­reer ex­pos.

“One expo that we show­cased in Lim­popo led to us part­ing ways – af­ter a nasty squab­ble over the R80 000 govern­ment ten­der to stage the expo in 2012.

“I was on my own, so I es­tab­lished MZA-BEE Con­sult­ing be­cause I wanted to do ca­reer guid­ance and men­tor­ing to budding en­trepreneurs.”

Last year, when Mlan­geni’s mother died, the third-year Unisa mar­ket­ing and busi­ness man­age­ment stu­dent changed the MZA-BEE name to Lil­lian M and As­so­ciates, nam­ing and ded­i­cat­ing his mea­sure of suc­cess to the woman who raised him.

The com­pany em­ploys three book­keep­ers and a mar­keter, spe­cial­is­ing in book­ing, per­sonal and com­pany tax.

To date, Mlan­geni has as­sisted 12 en­trepreneurs to make their start-up businesses prof­itable.

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